Different not Deficient! w/ Advocate ADHD Consultant and Psychiatrist Dr. Helen Read
I wanna give a shout out to NANOVi an NG3 corporate entity who is sponsoring this episode! They make this amazing device that allows my cells to regenerate and get better after hard workouts and much quicker than normal. You simply put it on, breathe into it, for about 10, 15 minutes and it harmonically changes the cells in your body- it is pretty cool! When you think about harmonically changing your cells you might think about The Fly; yeah, This is nothing like That. It actually just makes you feel a little bit better, a little bit faster. Like, I did a 75 mile bike ride and training for the Ironman this past weekend and used it when I got home. I used it again this morning and I feel amazing. So thank you to https://eng3corp.com/lls/ for sponsoring this episode!
Dr. Read is a very experienced Consultant Psychiatrist, with 30 years experience in NHS, most recently as Lead for ADHD at a large London teaching trust. She has many years of experience with neurodiversity, both in ADHD / ADD and ASD, and their many comorbidities. Dr. Read is also a trained individual and family psychotherapist, particularly specializing in Cognitive Analytic Therapy. Her psychodynamic and cognitive understanding and strategies really help in the journey of self understanding, and formulating a treatment plan that will actually work! Dr. Read has a special interest in rejection sensitivity and other emotional issues which are so often part of these conditions. Last, but certainly not least, Dr. Read has ADHD herself, as do her children. Her advice, support and experience to parents is first hand, reflecting the often difficult family journey she has taken, with many difficulties, and many successes along the way. Dr. Read’s lived experience of ADHD means that her treatment plans are from the inside… She lives in London where we find her on this rainy Thursday morning. Her private practice, ADHD Consultancy, specializes in neurodiversity. She’s been through it and is doing the good work- enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Dr. Read discuss:
1:55 – Intro and welcome Dr. Helen Read! Ref: Comorbidity
3:20 – How did you get involved in ADHD/Neurodiversity research, treatment & education?
9:00 – How do parents become better advocates for their kids?
11:22 – How is the UK in terms of embracing the awesome things about ADHD and Neurodiversity?
13:00 – How do you educate/re-educate parents about misconceptions/falsehoods & bad info about Neurodiversity in general?
17:05 – Thank you Dr. Helen Read! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love what the responses and the notes that we get from you. So please continue to do that, tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all, we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you can ever, if you ever need our help, I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
17:29 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
I wanna give a shout out to NANOVi an NG3 corporate entity is sponsoring this episode and you can find a link to them in the show notes. They make this amazing device that allows my cells to regenerate and get better after hard workouts, much, much quicker than normal. You simply put it on, breathe into it, uh, for about 10, 15 minutes and it harmonically, it changes the cells in your body. Uh, it is pretty cool. When you think about harmonically changing the cells you think about that will be the fly. This is nothing like that. It actually just makes you feel a little bit better, a little bit faster. I did a 75 mile bike ride and training for the Ironman this past weekend. I used it when I got home. I use it again this morning and I feel amazing. So thank you to https://eng3corp.com/lls/ for sponsoring this episode!
Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal. My name is Peter Shankman. I’m thrilled that you’re here! It is a gray and gross a Thursday morning here in New York city. But that’s okay because by the time this airs, hopefully it will be sunny. Again, it was the first day of third grade for my daughter. I dropped her off at school. And in essence, I guess the rain was good because it hit the tears. Obviously I’m talking about my tears, not her. She was thrilled to be rid of me. So thrilled that you guys are here. It’s another episode today. We’re going across the pond as it were. We were talking to Dr. Helen Reed. Arlene is a consultant psychiatrist, 30 years experience in the NHS. Most recently as Lee. For ADHD at a very large London teaching trust, tons of experience with neurodiversity, both ADHD ADD and ASD. And there are many co-morbidities I just learned I was 48 years old last year when I learned the word comorbidities and I learned it, of course, because of COVID. Um, Dr. Read is also a trained individual and family psychotherapist, particularly specializing in cognitive analytic therapy or CAT or psychodynamic and cognitive understanding of strategies, helping the journey of self understanding formulation and treatment treatment treatment plan that will actually work. She has a special interest in rejection sensitivity. We’re going to touch on that because I have a feeling that I have that other emotional issues. And literally, as I said that my dog had got up and walked away. Oh my God. I’m not even kidding. Dr. Read, welcome to Faster Than Normal, fantastic to have you!
Thank you so much for having me on. Um, wow. Uh, it’s very, it’s a great honor to be on the protocols and of course. It’s a talk to someone who’s such a leading light in the fields of ADHD difference, not deficit. Um, as I understand your approach to be an, I would say I’m all about that as a general principle.
Difference, not deficit. That is our headline. No question about it. Oh and the dog came back. So I feel better. How did you get involved? How, what, what’s your background? How did you start in this? Tell us, tell us.
Uh, well, uh, I started as a doctor,
I mean in regards to ADD, ADHD, that aspect of it.
So it was basically, it was my eldest son being diagnosed actually with autism um, 21 years ago when he was three and it was such a shock to me, it was unexpected, he didn’t seem kind of that child, as I understood it to be at that time, you know, he was chatty, intelligent, loving, all that sort of thing. But, um, he was referred by the nursery and part of the assessment was a speech and language therapy, uh, appointment. And she said to me, then she said, he’s a lovely talker, but he often can’t understand quite a bit of what you’re saying, you know, he receptive language processing issues. And, and really from that moment on, I was thrown into neurodiversity because I don’t know how it is over in the states, but in the UK, I think particularly what we used to call high functioning-Although I know people don’t always like that label- there’s not a lot available despite good will all around. So, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re well on your own kind of trying to get what your child needs. And we knew, I knew that he was bright, but he couldn’t understand what was happening in the classroom. And so what to do. And it was really as that journey that I really came across, um, the whole language processing issue. That seems to go across neurodiversity for an awful lot of people, which is quite a surprise finding. But anyway, that was how I thought that, you know, we need to get this child, some ADHD medication, my personal decision from that point of view so that he could really tune into what’s going on. And actually, you know, his first day on Ritalin when he was 11 and you know, not only about medication, but in, in my son’s case, it made a very, very big difference was when he came home from school and he said, mum, I can understand what the teachers are saying. And I can understand what the other kids are saying- And, you know, I, I knew it would help, but I didn’t, wasn’t prepared for that much of a difference. Um, and it made me think, gosh, you know, there’s so much in this. And of course the process of getting that Ritalin involved, um, having the second diagnosis of ADHD, which, you know, is, is it, I don’t know what you guys think, but I don’t feel it’s entirely separate from ADHD though clearly. It’s not exactly the same thing, but you know, he, um, with the support, you know, it’s a constant fight. So I think in this country, and from what I hear about the U S it’s not so different and it’s a constant fight to get them what they need to represent their points of view and all that sorts of thing. So I emerged quite battle scarred, but you know, my son. You know, it got a, two-one degree in law and these are very successful, very charming, very handsome, very lovely young man today. And, you know, bless his heart. It would have been too difficult for him. I think he obviously would have done well. He’s a great guy, but I just think that, you know, the specific thing about being in the school room, you know, about having to deal with a very auditory curriculum about having to focus when it’s boring, we all know what that’s like. And all of that kind of really mitigates against our children. Sometimes, either achieving their potential, which I guess is what it’s all about. So from there, um, That’s what got me started. And, uh, I, I, up until that point I’d been really particularly interested in psychotherapy, particularly with more crisis kind of groups, women’s power, you know, and anywhere where the action was, that’s where I tended to be. And, you know, I loved that work, but I did find, you know, with my own therapy and also with the therapy that I was giving to my patients, you can get so far with it, but often times we were ending up with, uh, I can compassionately see why I might be finding things difficult because of certain aspects of my childhood, but hey, I’m just watching myself compassionately, continuing to screw up and exactly the same way. So I sort of thought that there’s gotta be more to it here you know, it can’t just be explained by such difficulties as it to be. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t had some difficulties in their childhood, although clearly there are differences in degree, but you know, it’s the human condition to have a less than perfect life, I think at all stages. And particularly if you’re neurodiverse um, so I think I was looking for something more and I couldn’t help noticing the overlap. So y’know you get to know your patients and we’re talking about depression. We’re talking about anxiety, job problems, life problems, relationships, all these kinds of things, but you know, then you get to, well at school, I could never focus. You know, I was disappointing. My exam results were disappointing, I’d dropped out of university. You know, I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I’ve had many false starts with my kids. You know, these things, you just hear time and time again and at some point the penny sort of dropped you know; hey, this isn’t different from ADHD. And you know, sometimes. It dropped that I had ADHD myself, um, obviously as, as a very successful person, but you know, like many people will say, um, who have, you know, the experience of being what they call high functioning. It’s not about not being able to do things it’s about having to work harder, smarter, you know, you always have to get up in the morning before the neurotypical people and have it all planned out on a whiteboard, et cetera, et cetera, you know?
Let me, let me, let me stop you just for a second and ask the question. One of the things you mentioned, um, it sounds like you, uh, became a champion for your son at a very early age, and you were advocating for him for the needs, for his needs and for the things that he required, you know, in, in, uh, the U S at least the concept of advocating, it’s not as.. I mean, it’s starting to get there. Right. But parents don’t often have the tools or the, the knowledge to advocate for what their child needs once their child is diagnosed. You know, what are your thoughts on that in terms of how do parents become better advocates for their kids?
Well, uh, it’s worth knowing that, um, this is a slightly difficult thing to say, and I don’t want to upset anybody, but it’s not remotely unusual, um, for a child with ADHD to have, um, some family history and it’s remarkably common for one or other, or even both of the parents to be diagnosed. Sometimes it’s about either recognizing; he may be just like everyone else in the family, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have problems. So I think a lot of the journey is accepting it ourselves because you know, the cohorts of people who I was going through the same experience with all those years ago, you know, some of them got with the program, others were like, you know, he doesn’t do it at home. You know, he’s not like that all the time. No, no, no. He can do better than that. Almost like they were arguing giving their kids out of any possible support that they might get. And I feel that, that, um, it’s not really that it’s very understandable. Obviously it’s clearly understandable, but it isn’t always very helpful for children if we ask ourselves are in denial about how difficult things can be for them, particularly in the classroom. So I think first of all, we got to know. We’ve got to read out. We’ve got to become knowledgeable about this and try not to be defensive. I mean, it’s hard, isn’t it? When someone says you’re a little precious lamb, your little genius, you know, your, your precious child could possibly have a thing going on with them. The natural thing is to go, no, they don’t. They’re just like me. No, they don’t. But I think we probably need to get beyond that. If they’re struggling, obviously, if they’re not struggling, we don’t need to advocate for them, but if they are struggling, they need our help and they need our help to probably get the help that they need because if we don’t know what they need, how on Earth is anyone else going to where they need?
How has the, how is the UK in terms of embracing ADHD and looking at it as, not necessarily as a, as a curse, but rather as a gift?
Uh, I would say no where probably, I, I don’t know. I think, um, I, I think as a docter, it’s it interesting, and I do have some neurodiverse people in my clinic. I have more doctors in my clinic than some people would think could be there, but you know, doctors with ADHD in the UK tend to keep a very low profile I’m out there. You know, my patients know that I have ADHD myself and they appreciate that because they, that they must say appreciate the inside feel for what everyone’s going to say. But I think generally, no, it’s a condition with the doctors. You know, the patients, you know, you sit back and I will tell you how I am going to cure you of this terrible thing that you have going on, which means that you’ll never achieve anything. It’s terrible though. Y’know I was just reading the other day, a very, I’m going to say it. It’s the Royal College of Psychiatrists. If you ever feel like going on there and having a look article about ADHD, it’s like: “Go on and give yourself a pat on the back. Nope. Really? Because you are trying and it doesn’t matter if you can’t do anything, don’t worry, you sit back, stop shitting yourself”. Do you know, I just want to go and punch someone when I read that stuff, because that’s not where it’s at I don’t think, you know, maybe it’s for some people, but that’s not where it’s at for me, my family, my patients, you know, and, and no patients I’ve ever met; that’s where it’s at. You know, everybody wants to move forward. Everyone’s fighting. Yeah.
That brings up a great question. What are you telling parents who are getting this sort of information into their brain? How are you, how would you explain to them sort of, you know, what are next steps for them? How do you convince them, you know, hey it’s okay- your child is not broken, here’s what we can do!
Yeah, well, I mean, I am now I left the NHS, Peter, in 2020 in may it really just because, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s quite difficult, you know, when you sort of become aware of this kind of thing and, and, and, and, and really what we should be doing with ADHD versus what we actually do with it. There’s the Gulf is so wide that it becomes quite difficult, I think, to sort of practice in that context. So I did set my own private practice up, um, and that took off immediately, uh, and is very successful fortunately, and, um, not just because of me, because there’s such a need, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s desperate over in this country, how it is. So the people who come here, I don’t see a lot of children. I tend to see children of my patients and I as over fifteens now because I can’t treat kids, but because you know, Th the ideas that I have about treatment are not 100% in line with current medical thinking. And clearly I don’t want to get myself into any sort of situations with, uh, people who just don’t get this stuff, which I think to be fair is anyone who doesn’t have ADHD. I don’t know how you can get it if you don’t have ADHD. I just don’t think that people understand how we feel when we can’t function. So what do I say to parents? When, of course they’re coming anyway, they were approaching me. So they already have quite a lot of this under their belt. And they’re looking for diagnosis. They’re looking for help. They’re the fortunate ones because they can afford to pay. And, you know, unfortunately I do what I can for other people, but yeah. It’s really hard because it’s a tough battle. So, you know, I don’t think that you can convince someone else that they, or their child, or their spouse or whatever that they have, ADHD. It’s kind of a journey that people need to come to a little bit by themselves. And I think that goes to parents, it goes for spouses, it goes for everybody really. Because in as much as like either you can look at me and say, yeah, there’s ADHD there- she has the symptoms; you can also look at me and say, oh, well, she’s very lazy you know, you know, she’s probably a bit thick, you know, maybe that’s why she has to work harder. You know, perhaps she’s just, you know, not bothered to organize so properly, and that’s why she has to have things be written on the white board, you know, you could see what you want to see ready with ADHD I t’s quite, um, in a way nebulous. And I think it’s nebulous because you’re talking about a different kind of personality rather than a person with something wrong with them. But clearly there is a mismatch between what we need the world to be like and what it actually is like, and that causes significant disadvantage, I think and nowhere more so than at school and in education. Does that answer the question? I might’ve rambled on a bit.
A hundred percent. That was perfect. We’re we’re bumping up on time. How can people find, uh, find you? How would you find more about you and where can they find you?
Well, my company is called ADHDConsultancy so if you went to Google, www dot ADHD, consultancy.co.uk. Um, so one way I am on Twitter, unfortunately I’ve certainly forgotten exactly what my Twitter handle is cause it’s quite a new one because I locked myself out of my old one and I finally discovered to be registered, but it’s basically, if you put my name in Dr. Helen read, that’s basically what my new Twitter handle is. [15:58 – How can people find you? www.ADHDConsultancy.co.uk and on @ADHDconsultancy on Twitter and Facebook]
So I’m on there. Um, and, uh, yeah, I’m not hard to find just drop me an email. Um, and you and I love to hear from people, particularly people in the U S is, you know, I look with envy, um, on your situation over there. It seems to me that you’re so far ahead of us in terms of, of exactly what you’re speaking about this movement of, you know, don’t abort us just make some reasonable adjustments first, just accept that you can be intelligent unsuccessful with ADHD. Doesn’t mean that everybody is, but, you know, try not to make things so difficult for us I think is, is what I would really say.
Exactly. Well, awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Dr. Read. We really appreciate it. Great to have you. We’d love to have you back again in several months.
Guys, as always, even listening to faster than normal, and we appreciate that you’re here. Uh, you can find us as www.FasterThanNormal.com and I’m @petershankman. We will see you next week and we will remind you that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. We’ll talk to you soon. Stay well, stay safe.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week.